The Keith Mitchel-led government in St. George’s has reportedly sent emissaries to contact the majority shareholder of Grenlec, the Florida-based WRB Enterprises to engage them on a possible settlement of the multi-million dollar ruling from an international tribunal hearing on the future of the island’s sole electricity company.
Well-placed sources told THE NEW TODAY that “two sets of people” have independently approached the American majority shareholder of Grenlec on how the issue can be finally resolved.
“I don’t get the impression that it was the Government of Grenada directly (who approached WRB) but one of those persons could be representing the government of Grenada,” he said.
According to the source, WRB is very tight-lipped on the approaches that were made by Mitchell’s ruling New National Party (NNP) administration on the issue.
An international panel ruled just over three months ago that the Grenada government would have to pay the U.S majority shareholders in Grenlec an estimated C$200 million to buy back a block of 50% of its shares held in the local company.
The source who spoke on condition that he was not named said that Grenada’s ability to come up with that sizeable chunck of money would have been impacted by the onset of the coronavirus pandemic which has left the regime cash-strapped at the moment.
He said that COVID-19 would have bought some time for government in not making the outstanding payment at this point in time as WRB Enterprises itself will be reluctant to make a pitch for the money owed to it..
He stated that he sensed WRB will give the matter of the payment of the outstanding funds from government “a reasonable time” before making any decisive move to press for the outstanding millions.
‘A reasonable period would be longer now because of COVID than it might have been without COVID,” he remarked.
The informed source said the cards are heavily stacked in favour of WRB Enterprises in light of the arbitration ruling since the company can exercise the option right now “to sit down and relax” and continue to fulfill its obligations to manage the Grenlec operations for the time being.
He stressed that he did not anticipate the U.S company making any move until it believes that “sufficient time has passed” for the government to give a clear signal about its intention to take positive steps to bring closure to the matter.
He indicated that one of the options open to WRB is to resort to the method used by the Government of Taiwan to get Prime Minister Mitchell to honour millions of dollars in unpaid loans before ties with Taipei were severed in 2005 by St. George’s in exchange for a more lucrative financial package from Mainland China.
Taiwan had moved a court in New York to issue a garnishee order in which all monies owed by Grenada to International organisations including cruise liners, airlines and others should be paid directly to Taipei instead.
The Taiwanese action was aimed at affecting the flow of money into the coffers of the Maurice Bishop International Airport (MBIA), Grenada Ports Authority, and other statutory bodies operating in Grenada.
The Mitchell government was then forced to make an appearance in a court in New York to reach a settlement with Taipei.
According to the source, it will be in Grenada’s best interest to bring an end to the Grenlec issue on repurchasing the shares as the interest payments are rising and proving costly to the Grenadian taxpayers in keeping with the ruling of the tribunal.
“I don’t think (Gregory) Bowen (Minister of Public Utilities) could get away with saying that the two parties have decided not to speak publicly on the matter,” he said.
This is an obvious reference to statements made just over two weeks ago by Minister Bowen that both sides have agreed not to make public statements on the outcome of the tribunal hearing.
The source pointed out that the Mitchell government has a responsibility to the people of Grenada to make a decisive move to address the WRB/Grenlec issue and bring an end to it.
This, he said is a matter that should concern Grenadians because if the matter is allowed to drag on for any considerable length of time the interests payments will increase the millions already due and the taxpayers will be the ones to eventually suffer as the bill owed to WRB Enterprises would have to be finally settled.